Friday, August 20, 2010
Jennifer Aniston, the recent queen of romantic comedies, is back in The Switch playing Kassie -- a successful, but single 40-ish New Yorker looking to have a baby. As with 99% of films in the genre, you know the final outcome here before the movie even starts. I'm not even sure how it's possible, but this movie even finds a way to remove any glimmer of suspense. If you've seen the trailers, you've already seen the movie.
Despite the objections of her neurotic buddy Wally (Jason Bateman), Kassie decides to go ahead with plans for a sperm donor once she finds the perfect candidate in Roland (Patrick Wilson). Wally has always had feelings for Kassie -- but they long-ago decided just to be friends. At Kassie's ridiculously absurd "insemination party," a depressed and drunken Wally accidentally spills Roland's sample and has to switch it with his. Once pregnant, Kassie leaves town for seven years only to return with a young son who is mini-me version of Wally. Now we just have to painfully sit through the film until Kassie finds out the truth.
The film's only redeeming quality is a strong performance by Jason Bateman -- who continues to build upon recent successes in Juno, Extract and Up in the Air. Sadly the same cannot be said of Aniston. Despite great turns in early film roles in Object of My Affection and The Good Girl, she is now stuck in a rut of bad roles, giving the same performance over and over again. Also wasted here are the talents of Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum as the obligatory co-workers/wacky friends. Neither are able to rise above the weak material. Not even a cute performance by the kid -- Thomas Robinson in his film debut -- can save this mess.
Co-directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory), the film is written by Allan Loeb (Things We Lost in the Fire, 21) -- all of whom fail to inject life into the story. It's neither romantic nor funny -- I barely even chuckled. And you'll fail to convince me that it's really a dramedy -- because there is no drama here either. The geniuses behind the film even found a way to ignore the great setting. I cannot remember the last time a movie was set in New York City and didn't at least minimally capitalize on the wonderment of the city. It might as well been set in a small remote town. So save yourself the money on this one. If you're a fan of Bateman or Aniston, hold out and wait for the DVD release instead. [Rated PG-13; opens today]